I was honored to be asked to contribute the chapter on the Sixth Commandment, and to focus on the topic of abortion, in this international scholarly project! It is available as a free PDF here and will be available in hard copy sometime after Nov. 1, 2022.
The terse and thunderous sixth commandment can be translated “No murder.” It is the first commandment we see broken after Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden: their son Cain slew his brother, Abel, doubtless stunning Adam and Eve when they saw half the birthed population of the world destroyed, eliciting the declaration from God Himself, “The voice of your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground” (Genesis 4:10).
With the two words “no murder,” we are prohibited from all kinds of taking of innocent life – suicide, unjust war, slavery, recklessness, and violence. It would be impossible to address issues such as the death penalty,
contraception, human trafficking, or euthanasia in this space; I will focus on the issue of abortion, speaking partly from my experience as an American civil rights and adoption lawyer for about twenty-five years.
Unborn children are the only invisible people in the world. As such, they need extra discernment and care from the rest of us. Their hiddenness has not interfered with efforts to kill them throughout history, and it
should not keep Christians from protecting them. Humans don’t just “attain” the image of God or “evolve” it; we are “created” in that image (Genesis 1:27), thus bearing value and dignity even in the womb.
The Westminster Larger Catechism asks what duties are required in the sixth commandment and provides a well-considered, traditional Protestant answer in ways that call us toward protection of the unborn:
The duties required in the sixth commandment are all careful studies, and lawful endeavors, to preserve the life of ourselves and others by resisting all thoughts and purposes, subduing all passions, and avoiding all occasions, temptations, and practices, which tend to the unjust taking away the life of any; by just defense thereof against violence, patient bearing of the hand of God, quietness of mind, cheerfulness of spirit; a sober use of meat, drink, physic, sleep, labor, and recreations; by charitable thoughts, love, compassion, meekness, gentleness, kindness; peaceable, mild and courteous speeches and behavior; forbearance, readiness to be reconciled…
To read the full article and download the entire PDF, click here.